Google has done an amazing job promoting OKR, and educating the business world on the many benefits it can bring. But by introducing the concept of ‘grading OKRs’ (also called scoring OKRs), it created more harm than good.
What is grading OKRs?
As Google explains in their ReWork OKR guide, the score defines whether a Key Result or OKR has been achieved or not. They use a scale from 0.0 to 1.0, where a 1.0 score means that the Key Result or Objective is “fully achieved”. Key Results are scored individually, the Objective’ score is the average score of all its Key Results.
The grading concept is anything but straightforward, which is why you’ll find hundreds of articles on the internet explaining how it works. As a consequence, different organizations have different approaches towards grading OKRs, some of them have publicly written about how they approach grading OKRs.
The problem with grading OKRs
If a grade or score is defining such an important thing as whether or not a Key Result or Objective was achieved, don’t you want that score to be unambiguous, simple and objective?
Although it seems that the grade is mostly—if not entirely—based on the Key Result’s progress, Google does not track progress for its Key Results. Nonetheless, all the Key Results it uses in its example have a metric and a target value. The metric and target value enable you to measure progress towards your target. Wouldn’t it be much simpler to use that data and just look at the % progress?
Quantitative vs qualitative assessment
True, progress on OKRs doesn’t always capture the full picture. So yes, it does make sense to do a brief retrospective once you’re done working on an OKR. However, such an evaluation should not define whether the OKR has been achieved or not (a quantitative assessment is better suited for that purpose). Instead, it should be used for a qualitative assessment of the OKR.
How you want to run such a qualitative assessment is personal for each organization—though it is important that everyone in the organization does that same qualitative assessment. This is why we enable you to set up customized templates in Perdoo.
At Perdoo we always ask the lead of an Objective to answer the following three questions:
- How would you rate your execution?
- How has this OKR helped us progress as a company?
- Will you continue working on this topic in the near future?
By asking How would you rate your execution, we get an impression if the OKR was well-executed. If execution was rated poorly, perhaps we should give this OKR another try in the next quarter.
By asking How has this OKR helped us progress as a company, we force the Objective lead to summarize what value this OKR has brought to our business. The fact that an OKR has been achieved, doesn’t always mean it has added value to our business. The opposite is also true: when an OKR hasn’t been achieved, you may still have been able to acquire important learnings by working on it. Learnings are also progress.
The final question, Will you continue working on this topic in the near future, is a simpler question which helps us plan for the future.
We store the answers to those questions on the Objective in Perdoo. That way, all the important information for an Objective is logged on the Objective itself—which is important for future reference.